Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Sarangani health officer (PNA GenSan photo

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Health authorities in Sarangani province have tapped local tribal or indigenous peoples’ (IP) leaders to help increase its vaccination coverage against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Sarangani health officer, said on Friday the number of vaccinated individuals in some upland and remote villages and communities in the province’s seven municipalities remained low, especially among the IP residents.

He cited as an example the case of Barangay Amsipit in Maasim town, where only six of its 2,000 population are vaccinated.

“We still have a problem in really advocating for the vaccine among our IPs and those in marginalized communities,” he said in a briefing.

Alejandro said it includes beneficiaries of the government’s anti-poverty initiative Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Sarangani has seven cultural groups composed of the Blaan, Tboli, Tagakaolo, Kalagan, Manobo, Ubo, and Moro tribes.

Alejandro said they have coordinated the matter with the barangays and the municipal IP mandatory representatives.

He said Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon has been going around in the province, especially in the remote areas, to help convince the residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The provincial government is targeting to inoculate a total of 413,522 individuals before the end of the year to achieve population protection against the disease.

But as of Nov. 25, data from the Department of Health-Region 12 showed that only 59,367 individuals or 14.36 percent of the target are fully vaccinated while 83,459 or 20.18 percent are partially vaccinated or waiting for their second doses.

Alejandro said they are hoping that more residents will be inoculated during the three-day national vaccination days from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

He said they will be bringing the Covid-19 vaccines to the barangays to increase their coverage. (With a report from Allen V. Estabillo/PNA)